PCOS is most common in young women and can cause challenges when trying to conceive. Do you experience irregular periods, hormonal imbalance, excessive hair growth (facial hair), acne, or darkening of the neck? If you experience symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), they'll usually become apparent in your late teens or early 20s. Not all women with PCOS will have all of the symptoms, and each symptom can vary from mild to severe. Yet many go undiagnosed. Try to answer the following questions regarding your overall health. Schedule an appointment with our healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of the described indicators.
For 13 Years I Thought My PCOS Symptoms Were 'Just Part Of Being A Woman'
"Everyone remembers their first kiss.
I certainly do.
What should have been a 'magical' moment, quickly turned into a humiliating one, when my first boyfriend pulled away and told me he felt something scratchy. He asked if I had recently shaved my mustache. Naturally, I was mortified. This definitely wasn't the dreamy outcome I was expecting.
That prompted me to spend thousands of dollars on hair removal treatments to make sure I would never suffer the same humiliation again.
If having an abundance of upper lip hair wasn't bad enough, my college years brought with them cystic acne and fluctuating weight. I caked my face with makeup in an attempt to hide my acne. I began replacing meals with coffee. I was on a never-ending quest to be prettier and thinner. But no matter what I did, my attempts only made matters worse.
Doctors recommended various birth control options for hormonal acne, but nothing worked. It seemed like each pill I tried triggered even more nasty symptoms. I began having massive mood swings, in addition to ‘time of the month’ meltdowns. I was a hormonal mess. My periods were irregular and excruciating. The cramping and nausea would get so bad that sometimes I would throw up.
For years, I thought all these symptoms were part of growing up, of being a woman. I had resigned to putting up with them for the rest of my life.
At the age of 22, a doctor suggested that I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I'm ashamed to admit it now, but I brushed off his diagnosis. I had just finished college and was preparing to move across the world on an exciting new adventure, so I didn’t have the time, money, or inclination to examine what that meant. This was a mistake.
Flash forward a few years. I was in my late 20’s when I unexpectedly became pregnant. Just as I was coming around to the excitement of having a baby, the pregnancy ended after 10 ½ weeks in an even more unexpected and extremely painful miscarriage. I was left hurt, lonely, and confused on top of all the devastating feelings of incredible sadness and loss.
I hadn't confided in friends or family about my situation, thinking I’d wait until the second trimester. As a result, I was left to deal with the miscarriage on my own. Being pregnant made me realize that although it hadn’t been with the right man or in the perfect circumstances, it was still a beautiful experience. I knew that one day I wanted to become pregnant again and start a family.
In the back of my mind, I began to suspect that my hormonal issues – which I had dismissed as ‘just part of being a woman’ – had a more significant role to play in the loss of my pregnancy. I didn’t want this episode to define my life or jeopardize my future happiness, and so began my quest to learn more about my hormones and reproductive health.
I sought help from my gynecologist, hoping for answers. After some blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound, it was confirmed that I had PCOS. The doctor also suspected that I had endometriosis, and suggested further testing. All the symptoms were there, hiding in plain sight.
The embarrassing hair growth, unsightly acne, PMS symptoms, irregular and excruciating periods, as well as low moods, anxiety, and disordered eating. Sufferers of PCOS will know that when it’s at its worst, it can be utterly debilitating. It can be hard to get out of bed, let alone get out of the house.
On top of that, I had experienced the one thing that many people with PCOS dread the most, a pregnancy loss.
It took me a couple of days to process what the doctor told me and what it could mean for my future. But it wasn't long before my 'never give up' mentality kicked in, and I decided to do something about it.